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Smooth Operations Behind the Scenes

Invisible Strength
Invisible Strength
Smooth Operations Behind the Scenes

Smooth Operations Behind the Scenes

Ambrose Blowfield joins us with his experience in working with teams around the globe. Thoughts for a post-COVID world – why McDonald’s has the longest queue at the airport food court – and what does success really look like, in our customers’ eyes? Ambrose rounds out the session with a great suggestion on capturing your team’s strengths and weaknesses.

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The Markham team

Banner photo by Marcela Laskoski on Unsplash.

Podcast Hosts & Guests

Ambrose Blowfield
Louise Kirk

LOUISE: Well hello all, and welcome to Markham’s latest podcast episode! I’m Louise Kirk, part of the Markham team in Australia, and it’s great to have you listening today. Today we’re thinking about Smooth Operations Behind the Scenes, and joining us virtually from Auckland is our special guest Ambrose Blowfield. Ambrose holds a double honours bilingual degree in international business, with French, and authored “The Authority Guide to Writing and Implementing a Marketing Plan.” He currently offers world-class personalised sales and sales management training through his business Welcome aboard, Ambrose! Please tell us about yourself and how you work with sales and other teams.

AMBROSE: Thanks so much, Louise, and again well done for doing what you’re doing with Markham. Love that you’re adding value to your clients. I think it’s fantastic, and I think Markham, from the experience of interacting with you and members of the team, I’ve really enjoyed that sort of team morale and team motivation. It’s been fantastic and insightful.

I guess, you know, going back to your question, for me there’s a few things. From my upbringing and perspective – as you can probably tell from my accent, I was born in the UK, English heritage, but raised in Switzerland and France, and then lived in New South Wales for four years in Australia, before having married a Kiwi and moving to New Zealand to raise out our children 18 or 19 years ago now.

And we’ve had the privilege of training over 15,000 businesses in over 20 countries worldwide. And what we often see is there’s consistency of how a good team operates, and then there’s consistency of what makes a great team operate smoothly.

LOUISE: Well that’s great, thank you Ambrose. Now thinking about teams working to provide a service to their customers. What would customers be looking for, would you say?

AMBROSE: So obviously … you know we live, ourselves, in this sort of post sort of, onset of COVID world, so I think it’s actually reinforced what was happening anyway. The first thing I think any customer, whether they are a business customer or an end consumer, what the consumers and customers are really looking for is consistency. You know, one of the things in my world, pre-COVID, is – I used to travel for 190 days a year, mostly overseas. And I was always shocked where the number of, you know, walking through food courts in airports around the world, and there was always a bigger queue for McDonald’s than pretty much any other food outlet, despite the fact that most people may not suggest that McDonald’s provides the best food in terms of nutrition on a long flight.

And if I were to track that down to, you know, smooth operating being the theme for today. There’s always consistency in McDonald’s. You know exactly what you going to get anywhere in the world where McDonald’s is. It’ll taste the same and look the same. The packaging will be the same. I think the first thing people want is the reliability of consistency. And I think in the post-COVID world, that’s only going to increase, where people want brands and teams that they can trust.

LOUISE: Yes, I guess what I’m asking is what would success look like for the team providing the service?

AMBROSE: So I think we’ll track it back, if you didn’t mind. I guess the ultimate success of any business is to be profitable. That’s the fundamental need for any business. It has to be profitable. So to do that it has to sell and market what it does successfully. It has to deliver on that so that customers come back and customers tell their friends or tell their associates to come back.

And if we were to go one step before that, when I talked about consistency, if success could be measured in the world of customer service in terms of Net Promoter Score … you know you can ask someone the question along the lines of, On a scale of 1 to 10, where one is you’d never do this and 10 being you do it all the time, how likely would you be to refer us to others? So what does success look like as a team and at a service level? It’s a Net Promoter Score of 9 or 10 out of 10 when that question is being asked to their customers and clients.

LOUISE: Thank you! From your experience, Ambrose, what stops that happening? What are the blockages to success?

AMBROSE: That’s a great question, and to me this is those little invisible subtleties that if you start to analyse … I mean, I love teams. I love business, not just sales but business across the board. You start to observe the subtleties of what some teams have that allows them to become great and consistently great, and those invisible areas that people don’t have. And firstly I, if you’re thinking about service and serving customers, is that a team that ends up being at a high-performance level obviously needs to have good leadership and understanding of their team, and they’ve got good internal communication.

But more importantly, inside each person is a burning desire, to varying levels, but a burning desire to serve. And if I was to strip it back in the business level and say, you know, what is the difference or what is one of those key differences? Everybody there wants to serve their customers to the best of their individual ability, and that’s what’s invisible to the outside or unless you analyse it, but that’s what drives consistency.

LOUISE: So there we are. This the strengths once again of a team. And how can we, you might say, analyse ourselves as a team to make sure we’re working together to achieve success for our customers?

AMBROSE: Now that’s a great question because some of that self-analysis can be a bit scary for some, if the team isn’t performing consistently at a high level, and, you know, it starts with the first step, which is to be really honest and transparent with one another.

And the easiest way I found to do that when coaching people worldwide, is to, you know, to facilitate a session – and any member of the team can do the facilitation of this. It doesn’t have to be this most senior person, and I would argue that it should not be the most senior person to chair this meeting, but that’s to sit down and talk about really basic strengths or weaknesses.

“Guys, what is our performance level today?” And it is what it is. There’s no judgements around that; and then we ask the two key questions. First one being, “What is it we’re doing day to day that’s allowing us to achieve that level of performance at the positive level?”

And then once that’s happened that people feel relaxed, they feel confident and we note down there are those secret strengths that we’ve got, then we stop and ask the more important question. “OK, so what are our development areas? Where are we underperforming? And hand-on-heart, what do we need to look at to improve?” And then the next part that flows from that is then the continuous improvement to implement those changes.

LOUISE: Yes, that’s brilliant, Ambrose!

And how can our listeners connect with you if they want to find out more?

AMBROSE: Well, I think as always, on social media people can find Ambrose Blowfield on LinkedIn. There are no others around the world, it’s a slightly uncommon name, as you and I fully comprehend, Louise! And if not, if they want a free tool from us, then if they visited our website, there’s a free tool to download and use instantly to help them grow, and help them impact their team and ultimately their customers.

LOUISE: Oh thank you Ambrose, you are obviously very passionate about the topic! We really appreciate you taking the time to join us today. And to our listeners, we welcome any questions or feedback you have on today’s topic.

We are also happy to take suggestions for topics in the future. What are your concrete pain points in the field? How can we help to educate the industry?

Thank you so much for listening, and don’t miss our next episodes!

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